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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Surviving traffic police in India

Statutory warning: This author urges you to obey traffic rules, co operate with traffic police and follow safe driving practices. This post only gives some basic tips on reducing inconveniences you might face with law enforcers and by no means encourages you to break rules.

If you’re driving across on Indian roads, you would have probably noticed traffic police pulling over people (99% of them two wheeler drivers, traffic cop dashes in front of the speeding vehicle to make them stop and pull over). They do not check each and every vehicle on road, but pull over few vehicles randomly.
Traffic police pulling violators aside!

How do they work and what are the steps I can take to avoid them?

1. They try to identify the changes in facial expression of riders. Ideally, if you have some fault (say not having a Driving License) your face will show a sense of disturbance/insecurity when you see a cop suddenly (Oh! I didn’t bring my DL what shall I do if the cop asks for it). Traffic police are trained to note this change in facial expression and will definitely ask you to step aside if you show a sense of fear (Most of the people they identify will usually have one fault or other). So, to protect yourself, DO NOT change your facial expression (Dark face helmets will help a lot). Do not make abrupt changes in the speed/direction/lane as well.

2. Use the right most lane. Traffic police are positioned at left most lane and those coming in left most lane become easy victims. If you’re driving in right most lane it is unlikely that the cop will cross one or two lanes and stand in front of you to pull you over.

3. Never make eye contact with the cop. That is suicidal. It is like asking “Should I pull over and show my papers?” In all probability the police constable will indicate you to do so. Keep your eye on the road and keep moving.

OK. I have full respect towards these cops. They put in lot of effort in regulating the traffic amidst hot sun or heavy rain (or however harsh the weather may be). The only complaint I have is that they don’t treat everyone equally. If someone doesn’t slow down but speeds away, these cops make no attempt to chase them and fine them (first of all they don’t have vehicles that can go faster than today’s top speed bikes and cars (Chennai police do have Accent-Details here). They don’t have the determination to make everyone (irrespective of their financial or social position) who breaks a rule to pay fine but need some bakras to cough up some money and usually middle class people traveling on two wheelers become easy targets. We hardly see any car drivers/RTC buses asked to pull over though truck drivers are targeted sometimes (probably because if couple of cars are stopped, there’ll be traffic jam…) Extremely rich people go Scot free, either because these cops don’t dare question them or the rich people easily scare these cops quoting their “high level contacts”. Extremely poor people are also eventually let free, because they have nothing to cough up. Only middle class people end up paying fine (or giving bribe)

Best practices when you’re pulled over:

A. Assume you’re asked to step aside and show your documents. How to minimize inconvenience at that time?
1. Keep all papers (RC, Insurance, DL, emission etc) handy.
2. Cooperate with them. Don’t enter into heated argument. That will make things worse.
3. If you have no fault with you (you have all documents, not violated any rules etc) then there shouldn’t be a problem.

B. Assume there’s an obvious mistake from your side:

If your mistake is obvious, you’ve violated a rule, PLEASE OFFER TO PAY THE FINE. Irrespective of what others do, that is our responsibility as a sincere citizen. Do not attempt to justify your mistake. (Not knowing the law is not an excuse)

Other tips:

1. Keep the emission test validity sticker clearly visible from a distance.

2. If possible learn some local language and try to speak to them in local language. Using other languages will give them a hint that you’re relatively rich as you’re here on education/job from elsewhere.
3. Don’t ever tell them you’re an IT/Call center employee. The fine/bribe amount triples instantly. Your old college ID card may come handy.
4. Keep minimum cash in your wallet. These people are also human and are kind enough. If you can show them that all you have is 60 rupees, chances are that they will take that money, keep Rs 50, return 10 Rs to you and let you go. If you have several crisp notes, it will be very very difficult to defend yourself or your money. Keep that extra cash elsewhere.

5. Never reveal you’re in extreme hurry. These cops have no value for your time. Stay calm, wait for some time, your chances improve.

6. If a lady is traveling with you ask her to take an auto and leave. (It is a general assumption that guys would prefer to cough up some money and leave quickly instead of arguing, when a lady is present besides, and cops (or anyone for that matter) would love to exploit this opportunity.

If you have any more tips, please share.

With all respect to these police forces and their duties, I recommend following below mentioned best practices while driving:
1. Carry all required documents (DL, Emission Certificate, RC, Insurance, No due certificate (for inter state vehicles) etc)
2. Do not break rules. Please respect them.
3. Do not overspeed. Speed certainly thrills, but only till it kills.
4. Keep your vehicles in good condition.
5. Respect other users of road
6. Do not cut lanes/honk wildly/jump signals/park at wrong places
7. Wear helmet/seat belt

Second image sourced from Chandigar Traffic Police website

INFO: Dakshina Kannada (South Canara) Police have an official blog: Read here
Related: 1. A good experience with Chennai Police
2.Chennai police get Hundai Accent cars
3. Drivers' Insticts
4. An article on some fancy number plates spotted in Hyderabad (with photos)
5. Videos of Shrinidhi Driving a tractor

Watch this interesting video below of how vehicles regulate themselves in Hyderabad, India. It happens only in India...

Update:
Special Thanks to Mr. Harman, Chandigarh Traffic Police WebMaster for visiting this blog and leaving a comment. I only hope I will not be booked under official secrets act (or some other case) for revealing national secrets...Please checkout their website: ArriveSafe.org for comprehensive information on road safety.

13 comments :

harman said...

Smart tips to avoid cops..ha ha but readers please do not forget to read what you should do.

Harman
http://www.arrivesafe.org
Web master Chandigarh Traffic Police)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Harman, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I've linked to your arriveSafe website. Good one.

Do let me know if my writing above tips violates any of the existing or future laws...

Logesh TamilSelvan said...

Mr.Shri
Your blog is noted by indian police.. he he..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ya..May be I should go underground...Shall I hide in your home?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I also published this writing at Mouthshut.com, below are some comments written by MOuthshut members for this post...

Paulsb02 said:
Jul 15, 2007 09:10 PM

Hai Shrinidhi,

Excellent tips there.

I liked three of your qualities.

1. You observe things minutely.
2. You respect law.
3. You suggest/practice to be wise, not to become easy victims...

Good tips...very useful.

Keep writing.

Paul

enidhi said:
Jul 15, 2007 09:38 PM

That was so kind of you Paul... Thanks for the comments
brg_in said:
Jul 16, 2007 06:58 AM

Shrinidhi,

Good tips these. I remember two of my experiences.

1) I got a new bike, did some pooja and started driving. The RC book had not come yet. I had a nice garland in my bike. I then stopped at the cross line of a signal. The cop caught me. I was a little surprised. He said ’’ If everyone crosses the stop line except you, it means there is a problem in you.!! Lesson learnt. Follow the crowd even it means that you are deviating from the traffic rules.

2) I went into a wrong way. One Police man caught me. I accepted that it was my fault and I am willing to pay the fine . He was silent for sometime.. Thought I would bribe him. But I was firm that I will pay only the fine and not the bribe. After sometime he let me free!!! Honesty helps..

Two situations, contradictory statements. The goal is ’’GET AWAY FROM THE POLICEMAN’’. It worked for me -)))


-Raj

enidhi said:
Jul 16, 2007 09:31 AM

Yes brg...

If everyone jumps signal and you alone wait for green light, you might be asked to pay fine....:)
paulose said:
Jul 16, 2007 09:45 AM

shrinidhi, yet another comprehensive writeup from you. very relevant tips. i have observed this in many cities - the traffic cop will not be there at the signal where it has become chaos with every one wanting to go first ..we pass thru it, we see cop stopping vehciles for checking 100 mts ahead. do they think managing a signal is a ’non-profit’ activity ?

keep writing
santhosh

enidhi said:
Jul 16, 2007 09:58 AM

probably they prefer a silent place (so as to strike a better deal....) than crowded signal?
alk_ranjan said:
Jul 16, 2007 03:07 PM

very useful and interesting tips you have put in here . . . neat and nice job done



kudos
rohitthebest said:
Jul 16, 2007 07:19 PM

good one
i always keep a 50/- note with my Dl.
Although I keep all the docs in place but just in case.

Nice tips
I think in place of giving tips on how to dodge the cops you should put more stress on keeping the docs complete in the vehicle.

Your observation on cops stopping two wheelers more than 4 wheelers is absolutely right. They cant afford to have traffic jams for that matter.

I feel really great when I have all the docs with me - i drive on the extreme left so they shud stop me once a while and than leave me as i am ready with all the things ;)
it feels good to see their faces when you have everything to save urself from that extra bribing they expect.

Keep Writing
Rohit
Editenidhi said:
Jul 17, 2007 09:09 AM

Thanks Ranjan.

Rohit: I’ve listed all the documents one may need to carry.

thanks for sharing your views
mkumarasamy said:
Jul 22, 2007 12:25 PM

These are really useful tips. if one has money with him while caught simply pay fine and get receipt. be alert next time
keep writing

kumar

qwan said:
Jul 23, 2007 02:59 AM

nice review but the video you posted is a ’’fake’’ I have seen this video which was describing Indian traffic conditions as ’’crazy’’. Notice one thing in the video especially the traffic on the left which is going straight. Autos and the scooter are going toooo fast. Which means that this video has been deliberately fast forwarded. This is one of the million small lanes without signal in India and the people are crossing very slowly and carefully. The video shooter has forwarded the video just to exagerrate the ’’craziness of Indians’’.
drasad said:
Aug 06, 2007 09:05 PM

Hi Shri,

You really scared me. I belong to hyderabad and since past 5 years i am staying in Dubai. When i looked at the chaos on the road.The very question came to my mind. Did i used to drive on same roads once upon a time ? It is like hyderabadi urdu. we dont find any flaws in Hao, nakko. when we are out we will find the difference.
Thanks for your shot. Keep updating us.

enidhi said:
Aug 07, 2007 08:55 AM

@Mkumaraswamy: thanks.

@ Qwan: Video is not mine but circulated freely on net copyrightted to funmansion.com (Mouthshut logo on video has overwritten funmansion.com watermark.
I realize it is exaggerated a bit. Nevertheless its true that traffic regulate themselves in India...

Drasad: Your Hyderabad traffic is still far far better than those in Bangalore or other Indian Metros...

http://driving-india.blogspot.com said...

Almost 10% of the global road traffic accidents occur in India. Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of the indisciplined driving on Indian roads. Unfortunately in since 60 years since independence the authorities have failed to publish a National Highway code. Licences are given to anyone who can demonstrate an ability to use the clutch-accelerator, consequently the motoer driving schools teach just that and no more. Concepts such as - blindspots, principle of MSM, the tyre & tarmac rule, 2 second gap and most improtantly giving way are not known to the average Indian driver.

This site http://driving-india.blogspot.com/ has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training to all Indian road users. It is by far the most comprehensive website providing training in defensive driving. Learning simple road habits can make our roads safe and also free up congestion caused by traffic chaos.

At present 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. The video are unique in that the footage is real life action from streets of London. We have copied the Western habits: Replaced the dhoti with denim, high rise buildings for Indian cottages, burgers and coke instead of Indian breads and perhaps sugarcane juice. Surely we can copy the Western ways of travelling too.

To watch the videos, interested readers may visit: http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

The videos cover the following topics:

Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spots
Video 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and Manoeuvre
Video 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line
Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns
Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestrians
Video 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)
Video 7: Merging with the Main road
Video 8: Leaving The Main Road
Video 9: Never Cut Corners
Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads
Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with Roundabouts
Video 12: Speed limits, stopping distances, tailgating & 2 seconds rule
Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking
Video 14: Low beam or high beam?
Video 15: Parallel (reverse parking) made easy
Video 16: Give the cyclist the respect of a car
Video 17: Dealing with in-car condensation

Many thanks

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Quite useful videos...

Mita said...

Excellent videos, a must see

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Mita

Puneet said...

TIP : Whenever any these traffic thulas stops you, take your keys out otherwise they will take and you will have to struggle and you will have to settle with more amount of bribe and secondly you can run whenever his concentration is else where.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I had a better idea that bikes should come with finger print ignition...

Bharat said...

Hey nice tips to save yourself to cops but cops don't want papers these days they want only money hehehehehe.........

ujjwal kumar sen said...

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